ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Implementation Strategies

Our success stories encompass a wide variety of implementation models and best practices, from lecture-based to emporium labs to course redesigns. The flexibility of ALEKS made it simple and effective for these schools to improve their student success rates, and they are willing to share their strategies.

Sacramento City College, CA
2 Year Community College

Scenario: I use ALEKS in a hybrid course without a textbook.
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Course: Beginning Algebra

Deborah Bryant, Professor
I have had good results from my students who are committed to using ALEKS. Students with grades A, B, or C spend an average of 102 hours in ALEKS; students with grades of D or F spend an average of 27 hours in ALEKS.


Scenario

What challenges did your students or institution face prior to using ALEKS?
Previously, students used MyMathLab in a computer-assisted format. The classes met in a computer lab setting.

Was ALEKS used in your course with all students or with targeted students?
All students.

Number of students who used ALEKS for the course and term:
Number of sections: 1
Number of students per ALEKS section: 25
Total students enrolled in this ALEKS course: 25

How do you structure your course periods with ALEKS?
The hybrid course consists of lectures in the classroom for 60 percent of the time, and online work for 40 percent of the time.

How often are students encouraged or required to use ALEKS?
Days per week: 5
Hours per week: Approximately 5-10
Hours per term: 80-160


Implementation

Please describe how you implement ALEKS into your course curriculum.
In addition to the eight ALEKS pie slices, I also create two or three homework quizzes per slice, eight quizzes (one quiz per slice), a topics grid for each of the eight slices, a topic examples sheet for each slice, four written in-class exams (one exam for every two slices), and one written in-class comprehensive final exam on all eight slices.

Do you cover ALEKS topics in a particular order?
Yes. I cover topics in the order of ALEKS curriculum.

Do you integrate a textbook with your course using ALEKS Textbook Integration? Please describe how you set up your chapter completion dates.
No.

How often do you use the ALEKS Instructor Module?
I use the Instructor Module a few times throughout the term.

How do you incorporate ALEKS Quizzes into your course?
I create a ten question quiz for every slice of the ALEKS Pie.

How do you incorporate ALEKS homework assignments into your course?
I assign 2-3 homework assignments per every slice of the ALEKS Pie.

How do you incorporate ALEKS scheduled Assessments into your course?
I allow an end of term comprehensive assessment to serve as an alternative to homework assignments. I use the percent score on the assessment as the percent of total points toward homework, which is a total of 60 points.

How do you modify your regular instructional approach as a result of ALEKS?
I print examples of each topic as handouts to facilitate more time to understand each topic instead of taking notes without processing the information.

How do you use information from ALEKS to focus your teaching?
I advise students to use ALEKS Worksheets, Review Mode, reports, explanations, and unlimited homework quizzes to enhance their understanding of the course material.


Grading

What percent of a student's grade does ALEKS make up?
27 percent.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The course has 515 points available. ALEKS homework (or the comprehensive assessment) comprises 60 points and the quizzes comprise 80 points.

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities?
ALEKS is 100 percent of the students' homework responsibilities.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No. I did not make a specific amount of progress required.

How do you track student progress in ALEKS?
I use the quiz reports to collect quiz and homework scores. I also use the individual and class average pie reports to discuss student progress.

Do you notice that students who spend more time in ALEKS perform better in the course than those students who spend less time in ALEKS?
Yes. Students with grades A, B, or C spend an average of 102 hours in ALEKS; students with grades of D or F spend an average of 27 hours in ALEKS.

Would you attribute any improved student performance in the course to ALEKS methodology or to some other factor?
Students seem to be drawn to the hybrid format because of less hours of instruction compared to a traditional lecture format. They may be predisposed to accept spending more time outside of class than the traditional students.


Learning Outcomes

Please describe the learning outcomes your students have achieved using ALEKS.
The average retention for my four sections in Fall 2003 - Spring 2006 before using ALEKS was 14.75 graded students. The average retention for my eight sections in Fall 2006 - Fall 2008 using ALEKS, was 22.5, representing a 53 percent increase in retention.

In general, how do the students feel about their progress in ALEKS?
Students who are willing to learn the mathematics and do homework enjoy using ALEKS.


Best Practices

What challenges did you encounter when first implementing ALEKS and how can other instructors avoid these pitfalls?
Students at this level need more guidance than completing the ALEKS pie only. By creating the homework quizzes, students have access to all topics without having to come across them through Learning Mode. I no longer introduce all features of ALEKS at the beginning of the term.

What will you do differently when you implement ALEKS in your future course(s)?
This term, I will use the comprehensive assessment four times per semester at the end of each pair of pie slices. I will also have homework due dates for homework credit and post practice homework assignments for unlimited and post-deadline access to topic content.

Which ALEKS course product(s) have you used in the past?
Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, PreCalculus

What best practices would you like to share with other instructors who are implementing ALEKS?
I suggest collaboration during class time to work on the examples distributed.